Each year, millions of new entertainment assets from many sources are added to the already massive amount of video content available globally. Keeping track of all this video is becoming an increasingly complex task for many businesses in the entertainment supply chain. Three big cable-industry players have joined forces with a Hollywood group to create a numbering system and a database for these video assets.

MovieLabs, CableLabs, Comcast and Rovi Corporation have created the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR), a non-profit company that provides a uniform approach to cataloging movies, TV shows and other commercial audio/video assets with unique identifiers.

EIDR will provide a universal ID system, making it easier for businesses to search, track rights and report revenue based on an assets’ unique ID.

It’s being developed as an open, standards-based effort built on the established Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system created by the International DOI Foundation and based on the Handle System persistent identifier technology. In addition, it uses the open-source registry software from the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI). This flexible, open foundation allows it to interoperate seamlessly with other existing identifier systems like AD-ID, the industry standard for advertising-asset identification, which is expected to help streamline interactions between content owners, distributors, system operators, advertisers and metrics providers.  

According to Jud Cary, vice president/deputy general counsel at CableLabs, EIDR was initiated by Motion Picture Laboratories (MovieLabs).

"The studios and MovieLabs were probably the precursor to this," said Cary. "They want to get paid for their assets across all platforms."

The founding members of MovieLabs are Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios, Walt Disney Pictures and Television, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

"From a cable perspective, we were interested in this for ‘TV Everywhere’ initiatives," said Cary. "With multiple devices, with multiple encodings, having to keep track of all that, this helps that process be more efficient and accurate."

Although the initial members of EIDR are heavily weighted on the cable side with CableLabs and Comcast, Cary said EIDR welcomes and encourages other providers, whether satellite, telco or over-the-top.

"I think that we’ll get it going very rapidly," he said. "Rovi will be putting in an initial stock of around 1 million records."

The records themselves are simple and will function similarly to UPC codes used to identify physical packaged goods and the ISBN codes for books. The registry will catalog and assign a single, unique unit of identification to movies and TV assets – from entire movies down to clips and composites – and it can be used for both physical and digital video media that are part of the movie and TV supply chain.

For content distributors, access to unique IDs will help eliminate confusion between assets with the same name or that have different cuts of the same video, helping to ensure that the right products are being distributed to the consumer.

The registry is expected to be available to members in early 2011. EIDR also will provide a set of APIs for developers of such third-party applications and services as workflow integration, reporting and enhanced metadata.

-Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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